Walter, who is old friends with FoodDigger founder Marshal, agreed to come up with a four course meal with wine pairings. Bloggers in attendance included H.C. of http://www.la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com/; Sharon of http://www.weezermonkey.blogspot.com/; Cathy of http://www.gastronomyblog.com/; Kevin of http://www.kevineats.com/; Mike of http://www.pepsimonster.com/; Ila of http://www.inomthings.blogspot.com/; Danny of http://www.kungfoodpanda.blogspot.com/; and Kathleen of http://www.kats9lives.com/.
After some back and forth with Walter and Yassmin in the weeks prior to the event, our four course meal became an 11 course extravaganza of a chef's tasting menu. Walter was given carte blanche of the menu, and decided on the fly what would be served. Josh noted that in addition to his duties as maitre d', it was quite the task to pair 9 wines for our party of 12 as Walter decided what would be served.
Our dinner began.
Apertif of Floc de gascogne. A vin de liqueur fortified with armagnac, it was served with ice and orange zest. This sweet wine had hints of almond and honey.
Beignets de Brandade de Morue- Bacaloa, or salt cod, mixed with mashed potatoes and deep fried as fritters. With barely any potatoe, these beignets were amazing, especially accompanied by the saffron aioli.
Iced Kumamoto Oysters-Served simply on a bed of ice with lemon wedges and a red wine mignonette. Kumamoto oysters, originally from Japan, are now farmed in Washington, in particular bays that have similiar characteristics to the Japanese waters whence they originated. Always a favorite of mine, with their delicate sweetness and brine.
The initial dishes were paired with a Hugues Beaulieu-Coteaux de Languedoc. This white wine paired nicely with the oysters, with hints of grapefruit and lemon.
Gambas a la Nicoise- Santa Barbara spot prawns, halved and broiled, then topped with lemon and olive oil. Sweet, tender...simple and delicious, topped with a vegetable relish.
Bistro Sushi-a tiny, molded slice of fingerling potatoe salad topped with smoked herring. The smokiness from the herring dominated the dish. I like it very much.
The shrimp and herring were paired with a 2007 Domaine de Persenades-Cotes de Gascogne. Refreshing hints of citris and floral notes made this wine from the southwestern region of France a great pair for both dishes, although the smoked herring almost overpowered the wine.
Assiette de Charcuterie-This was a selection of housemade pates and meats that included saucisson sec(dried sausage), foie gras terrine with port gelee, pork rillettes with prune confiture, among other items. The charcuterie was incredible...one of the signature offerings of Walter's menu. It paired with an N.V. Terres Dorees FRV100 Beaujolais.
Asperge a la Tashiro-Hog Farm's Asparagus topped with Maine lobster. Hog Farm, owned by Ray Ranscioni and located in Carmel, began over 30 years ago and produces a thick and beautifully tender asparagus. The lobster, generously donated for the meal by Marshal, was poached and topped the steamed asparagus, which was lightly seasoned and dressed with olive oil. Marshal included a few extra lobsters, intended as gifts to Walter and Yassmin. Walter, however, chose to create this dish and dedicate it to Marshal, and included it on his menu for the night. Apparently, Josh saw a number of orders come through, so hopefully, it will become a mainstay.
Escargots de Bourgogne-snails in garlic and parsley butter, placed in a tiny ramekin and topped with puff pastry. I can honestly say this is the best escargot I've ever had. Pushing the flaky baked pastry into the melted butter allowed the already butter-rich topping to absorb more butter and garlic. Truly awesome!
The asparagus and escargot were paired with a Domaine Boisson-Cairanne Grenache. I'm not a fan of Rhone wines, so I wasn't thrilled by the pairing.
Flamenkushe-A flat bread topped with caramelized onions, bacon, gruyere and veggies. The bread was light and airy, and the smokiness of the bacon lardon and the sweetness of the onions dominated the dish. Some opinions were that it was too sweet, but I found it delectable.
This paired with an '07 Maupertuis La Guillaume-Auvergne. Guillaume is William in French, so I had no choice but to love it.
Moelle de Boeuff-Roasted marrow bone. Marrow bones, about 8 inches long, halved and seasoned simply with salt and pepper, were roasted. Served with toasted slices of brioche and a radish relish, this was my 'heavenly light shining down on me' dish/moment.
The marrow was paired with an '07 Domaine Cros de Romet-Cairanne. I can't really remember the grenache/syrah blend's pairing, as all that comes to mind is that rich flavor of roasted marrow tempered by the radish relish.
Steak Frites-Frites au lard, with steak. Accompanied by a Bernaise and Beaujolais sauces. Quite franky, after the richness of the marrow, I was done, especially after finding it was too rich for some and luckily having much more than my share. The beef was a bit overdone at medium, making it a bit tough. I enjoyed the sauces, as it allowed a segue on my palate from the marrow. Kevin noted that it overpowered the beef in a negative way. I agree that it did overpower the beef, but I think it was necessary after the marrow.
Paired with an -06 Domaine Etxegaraya.
Dessert-Creme Brulee, Cherry tart, apricot tart Croustade aux Baies Pot de Creme au Chocolate.
This gorgeous platter of desserts looked amazing, but my senses were in overdrive. I did not partake in this last dish, but I heard the 'hmmms' from numerous bloggers. I did, however, partake in the pairing of Julien Fremont Cidre Brut Par Nature.
Overall, the meal was amazing. Incredible food, thoughtful wine pairings and phenomenal company are always a recipe for a memorable meal. Walter came through with this special meal, and he even found a number of opportunities to chat and take photos. Special thanks to all of the bloggers who made it out for the evening, and also to Walter and Josh for making this 'one of best events yet', to quote Kevin. Based on the glazed looks and satisfied smiles of Mike, H.C., Danny, Kathy, Kat, Kevin, Ila and Sharon, I would agree.
These events are great fun and we thank the bloggers for their continued support. Only with their support can we truly make our visions of a viable restaurant resource a reality. If you're a blogger whom we haven't reached out to yet, let us know and share a future memory with us.